New Legal Realism: Empirical Law and Society







Seeking to develop a rigorous, genuinely interdisciplinary approach to the empirical study of law.
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Psychology: At the Intersection of Law and Empirical Methods

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On Law and Psychology: For great introductions to the issues that face lawyers who want to draw on
empirical psychology, see these two featured articles:

Shari Seidman Diamond, Empirical Marine Life in Legal Waters: Clams, Dolphins, and Plankton, University of Illinois Law Review 2002: 803-181 (2002).

Diamond’s early signal piece begins by defining empirical research, distinguishing work that relies on observation and experiment from abstract modeling, normative theorizing, and other kinds of nonempirical scholarship. She goes on to develop a creative typology of approaches to the use of empiricism in law. For example, legal researchers can be “clams” who stay relatively immobile in their stances toward the use of empirical research, thereby making some potentially serious errors whether they embrace or reject that research. By contrast, Diamond sketches the more promising roles of “dolphin” legal scholars who, whether performing, using, or critiquing empirical research, do so from an informed and flexible point of view.

Jennifer Robbennolt, Evaluating Empirical Research Methods: Using Empirical Research in Law and Policy Nebraska Law Review 81: 777-804 (2002)

In this paper, Jennifer Robbennolt assesses the “persistent tensions and tradeoffs at the intersection of social science methodology and the law from the perspective of legal and policy decision makers who are called upon to utilize empirical research.” Robbennolt’s suggestions for addressing these tensions include: (1) EXPLORE THE TENSIONS, rather than uncritically accepting results (**A distinctly NLR approach!); (2) UNDERSTAND RESEARCH IN CONTEXT; and (3) CONSIDER NEW FORMS OF METHODOLOGICAL TRAINING.